Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III during Senate plenary deliberations in this photo taken on November 16, 2023. (Senate Office of Public Affairs and Information file photo)

MANILA, Philippines – The question of his alleged penchant for travel has dogged the Climate Change Commission (CCC) on Monday for two years.

This time, the Senate Minority Leader, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, asked about the CCC’s participation in the Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Egypt at the end of last year.

“Just to destroy this prejudice against the commission, there have been talks since last year that you have always been traveling,” Pimentel said in Fillipino when the Senate took up the CCC’s P147-million 2024 budget proposal on the floor.

He went on to ask if there was truth to the claim that the Philippines had 89 delegates for COP27.

Responding for the CCC, sponsor of the agency’s budget, Senator Imee Marcos clarified that only 12 of the 89 delegates were from the commission.

“They were combined from different agencies. But there are actually many,” Marcos said, speaking partly in Filipino.

Pimentel then asked if in fact the CCC delegates extended their stay in Egypt for another week.

Marcos assumed that COP27 was a “controversial meeting”, so negotiations continued beyond the convention period.

But when Pimentel asked if she was satisfied with the commission’s explanation, Marcos said: “I still think – being you and I of Ilocano origin – that they are spending too much on travel.”

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva joined the discussion, saying, “It is also not acceptable from the people of Bulacan.”

Later, after consulting with Pimentel, Marcos pointed out that only P4.999 million – or just under P5 million of the CCC’s P147 million budget proposal – was set aside for his local and foreign trips.

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The same issue on his trips abroad was raised against the commission when it defended its budget for 2023 in the Senate plenary.


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